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Delaware's Early Childhood Program

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What is the Early Childhood Program?

The Early Childhood Program is positioned in the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health section in the Division of Public Health (DPH). The program provides support for statewide partners to build and integrate early childhood service systems that promote the health and well being of Delaware’s young children. The Early Childhood Program has been instrumental in bringing early childhood champions together to propose strategies that will achieve the goals of Sustaining Early Success: Delaware’s Early Childhood Plan .

Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) is a federal grant project awarded to the Division of Public Health in 2003 from the Maternal and Child Health Bureau (MCHB) of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The ECCS project is part of a nationwide initiative to build and implement comprehensive systems of care that support family and community approaches to promote positive early development and early school success for young children.

Over the years, Delaware has used its Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS) funds to build collaborations with public and private entities across the state who share similar vision and mission. The ECCS program focuses on building cross agency support through the Help Me Grow system by partnering with early childhood partners. Help Me Grow is a replication project utilizing physician and community outreach, centralized information and referral centers to link at-risk children and families to needed programs and services. The ECCS program in Delaware leverages its position by being the lead implementer in this effort and brings people to the table by building on existing services and funding opportunities. The recent federal transformation of the Maternal Child Health grant to reduce health disparities and improve health outcomes by strengthening public health systems and services addressing the root cause of disease and poor health has refocused ECCS approaches across the nation. .

The 2013-2016 ECCS grant periods re-focuses the program on brain development and the impact of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and toxic stress on families with young children birth to three. The Building Health Through Integration grant is a continuation of the program’s focus on developing, implementing and sustaining “comprehensive” early childhood programs, systems, and partnerships. The purpose of the grant is to strengthen Delaware’s child mental health infrastructure by educating early childhood providers, foster parents, parents, communities, social groups, medical homes and churches about the adverse effects of toxic stress in children.

The following methods advance the Early Childhood Comprehensive Systems (ECCS)
Grant Project Goals:

  Education and Ecobiological Framework:

  • Train early childhood providers, home-based child care providers and home visitors statewide about the impact adverse childhood experiences have on brain development and the reduction of toxic stress in infants and children.

  Expansion of Existing Programs Focused on Mitigating Toxic Stress

  • Enhance Strengthening Families program to children and their families to provide prevention and intervention strategies to reduce adverse life experiences.

  Expansion of existing programs focused on mitigating domestic violence.

  • Provide training on domestic violence screening and referrals to training early childhood providers, home-based child care providers, families and communities.

  Screening for Individuals with Elevated Adverse Childhood Experiences

  • Institute Adverse Childhood Experiences screening at Federally Qualified Health Centers using the ACE Questionnaire.

  Expansion and Coordination of Evidence-based/Informed Support and Services.

  • Promote networking opportunities among programs engaged in trauma informed supports, mental health and treatment services for children.


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